The 21st of April marks the death anniversary of Muhammad Iqbal, one of the most significant proponents of the two-nation theory and the creation of Pakistan in the first half of the 20th Century. Indians, of course, know him as the pen behind the famous composition ‘Sare Jahaan Se Achcha’. In Independent India, under the patronage of Nehruvian Secularism, Iqbal has come to be regarded as a beacon of Secularism and the underlying cultural unity between the Hindus and Muslims of India.
Anyone with half a thinking mind should have realized that Muhammad Iqbal was a very poor ambassador for the mythical construct of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. However, the intoxicating capabilities of Nehruvian Secularism are so potent that it renders an individual unable to grasp even the semblance of reality. Any self-respecting country would have thrown Iqbal into the dustbins of history for the morbid political worldview he advocated which manifested itself in the form of Pakistan. But in Secular India, his words were held up as an example for Hindus and Muslims to follow. Needless to say, if the Muslims of this country decide to follow Muhammad Iqbal’s words in their entirety, Hindus have plenty to worry about.
The now famous composition ‘Sare Jahaan Se Achcha’ was published in 1904 by Muhammad Iqbal, a year before the Partition of Bengal in British India. The most famous lines of the composition say, which formed its sixth stanza, “Maẕhab nahīṉ sikhātā āpas meṉ bair rakhnā, Hindī haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai Hindositāṉ hamārā”. Unfortunately, in Independent India, the entire legacy of the Islamic fundamentalist poet has been reduced to these two lines, ignoring almost entirely his contribution to the formation of Pakistan. Unsurprisingly, not much is spoken of the Tarana-e-Milli which was composed by Iqbal in 1910.
In Tarana-e-Milli, the Islamic fundamentalist nature of Muhammad Iqbal become entirely evident. It was composed in the same metre and rhyme scheme as ‘Sare Jahaan Se Achcha’ and was composed for children. The first stanza of this particular composition contrasted sharply with the sixth stanza of his prior composition. It said, “Cīn o-ʿArab hamārā, Hindūstāṉ hamārā, Muslim haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai sārā jahāṉ hamārā”. This is the pure vision of the Ummah in poetry. The Ummah which does not constrain itself with any national boundaries but believes that it has an Allah-given right to lord over the entire world. Unfortunately for the Ummah lovers, that vision is unlikely to ever come true.
The Islamic fundamentalist worldview of Muhammad Iqbal, which contrasts sharply with the image of him being a beacon of communal harmony that has been propped up in India since independence, are more than evident in the words of Tarana-e-Milli. He says, “The treasure of tawhid is in our hearts, It is not easy to wipe out our name and mark. The first house we have liberated from idols is the Ka’abah; We are its custodians, and It is our protector.” Tawhid refers to the concept of Monotheism in Islam. The words seen in unison reflect quite clearly the deep hatred for idolatry and polytheism that Muhammad Iqbal carried in his heart. These are not the words of someone who preached communal harmony, these are the words of an individual who wishes to wage Jihad against Hindus for his religious reliefs.
It is quite evident that between 1904 and 1910, a radical transformation occurred in the worldview of Muhammad Iqbal. It is believed that it occurred when he left for the United Kingdom for a three-year period. It is then that he supposedly turned into an Islamic fundamentalist which paved the way for him becoming a staunch advocate for the creation of Pakistan. Throughout the later stages of his life, Muhammad Iqbal was a passionate advocate for the creation of Pakistan.
In his presidential address at the 25th Annual Session of the All India Muslim League on the 29th of December, 1930, he said, “India is a continent of human beings belonging to different languages and professing different religions…I, therefore, demand the formation of a consolidated Muslim state in the best interests of the Muslims of India and Islam.” In the same address, Muhammad Iqbal also said, “I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India.”
Adherents of Nehruvian Secularism in India blame anyone and everyone for the two-nation theory and the creation of Pakistan, even as they idolize those who were primarily responsible for the partition of the country. Even during the CAA debate in December last year, the Congress party blamed Vinayak Damodar Savarkar for propagating the two-nation theory when, in fact, it was first advocated by Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University. And all this while, they continue to hold Muhammad Iqbal in high regard even though he actively demanded the creation of Pakistan. But then, logical inconsistency and hypocrisy are the features of Nehruvian Secularism and not a bug.
It is also known that Muhammad Iqbal was an Ahmadiyya for the major part of his life. It was only later that he quit the sect, allegedly due to pressure from Radical Muslims who consider Ahmadiyyas to be heretics. It is widely known that he remained in touch with the Ahmadiyya leadership till 1931, when he vouched for the Ahmadi Khalifa as the most able person to lead as the first president of the newly founded all-India Kashmir Committee. His parents and elder brothers remained Ahmadiyyas. The pitiable circumstances of Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan is abundant evidence as to why Iqbal might have been motivated to convert out of the sect. Thus, ironically, the beacon of Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb was quite probably shamed into converting out of the sect he was born into.
As has been said before, any self-respecting country would have dumped Muhammad Iqbal and his compositions in the dustbin, where it belongs. However, Secularism in India means that Hindus continue to suffer every slight that is thrown at them. Of course, one could indulge in a long philosophical debate about whether art could be separated from its creator but these are intellectual luxuries that could ever be entertained only in the absence of imminent existential threats. Unfortunately for us, however, Hindus have been combating a multitude of existential threats ever since the creation of the Indian Republic.